Research Your Hispanic Heritage at TSLAC

Alec Head, Reference Librarian and Rachel Union, Library Assistant

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) joins the country in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15. In honor of this event and its relevance to Texas history, TSLAC is highlighting resources in our collection that can aid researchers studying their own Hispanic heritage and genealogy. TSLAC has numerous publications and government records to assist family historians. We invite the public to visit us during the week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to start your journey or come in when we open for our monthly Second Saturday hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Second Saturday in October happens October 14, 2023.


TSLAC’s collections contain a variety of materials that could be helpful to researchers studying their Hispanic heritage. This post highlights genealogy publications along with examples of government records on microfilm. The books listed below are currently on display in TSLAC’s Reference Reading Room. Other items in our collections can be found by searching the library catalog. Information on our location and hours can be found on our “Visit Us” webpage.

Continue reading

Charro Days Parade, 1948

The Charro Days fiesta began in 1938 in Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, its sister city across the Rio Grande, as a recognition of Mexican heritage with multiple parades, dances, concerts, a rodeo, and more over several days in February. Still an annual event, Charro Days has grown to include additional festivals and traditions and continues to draw visitors to the celebration each year. The images below were taken as a parade moved through downtown Brownsville in 1948 and are a part of the L. L. Cook Company collection at the State Archives, which is available online in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA).


black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. There are spectactors lined in front of shops along the main street. This portion of the parade has one white convertible, one black convertible and an older model black car behind those. In the foregound a security guard is visible.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-373. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in dowtown brownsville. Spectators line the sidewalk of the main street. There are two decorated floats in view with pedestrians in costume carrying flags behind the floats.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-362. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. Spectactors line the sidewalks along the main street. This portion of the parade has women in traditional Mexican costume walking down the street.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-364. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. This portion of the parade shows five men on horseback and wearing traditional charro costume, including wide-brimmed hats. There is a white four-story building on the right-hand side of the street and spectators lining the sidewalks.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-359. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade route in downtown brownsville. The view is of a street with low buildings on each side. Pedestrians both in street clothes and costume walk on the street and sidewalk either before or after the parade.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-352. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.

For questions about TSLAC collections please contact our reference staff at ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-564-5455.

Hispanic Heritage in Texas: The Nacogdoches Archives

Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

Map of Texas, 1835. State Archives Map Collection, 2750. TSLAC. Map of Texas outlining departments of Bexar, Brazos, and Nacogdoches.

The Nacogdoches settlement in Northeast Texas, named for the Caddoan “Nacogdoche” tribe that inhabited the area, once served as the government seat for Spanish and Mexican colonial ambitions in East Texas. On the eve of the Texas Revolution (1836), the territory governed from Nacogdoches extended from the town of Anahuac in the South, the Trinity River to the West, the Red River to the North, and Louisiana to the East [see 1835 map in TSLAC collection]. Colonial records remained at the Nacogdoches county courthouse through the Republic and statehood eras until their transfer to state custody in 1850. Adolphus Sterne, the House member that introduced the resolution to transfer the documents for their historical value, had served as an alcalde of the Ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches during the colonial period.

Joint Resolution Providing For the Removal of Certain Spanish Documents From Nacogdoches County to the State Department. 3rd Legislature, Regular Session (1849-1850), Texas Secretary of State legislative bills and resolutions filed (General and Special Laws). TSLAC. View in the TDA.

The “Nacogdoches Archives” was the name given to this original transfer of documents from county to state custody. These records are not a complete record of the Spanish and Mexican administrations in East Texas. When the Department of Nacogdoches (the larger political unit that included both the settlement and the municipality of Nacogdoches and most of East Texas) was created from the Department of Bexar in 1831 and government records were physically separated according to the new geographical divisions, evidence suggests that items from both departments were intermingled to some degree. (The Bexar Archives are available at the University of Texas at Austin and at the Bexar County Clerk’s Office.) In addition, not all colonial records at Nacogdoches were transferred in 1850: some remained at the county level. 

Since 1850, the “Nacogdoches Archives” has been held by three state agencies: Texas Department of State (1850-1876), Texas Department of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History (1876-1909), and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (previously named the Texas Library and Historical Commission)(1909-present). The documents remained stored in tin boxes until 1878 when they were inventoried and ordered according to the government organizational structure of the colonial period. When Robert Bruce Blake began his monumental 89-volume transcription of the archives in the 1920s, the documents had been rearranged in chronological order and expanded with Spanish language materials from other collections. In the 1980s, a significant project headed by Dr. G. Douglas Inglis aimed to reverse changes made to the collection over the preceding 130 years. 

Letter from Stephen F. Austin to the governor of Spanish Texas, Lt. Col. Luciano Garcia, on preserving order in the colony, 1823, p.1. Nacogdoches Archives 004-37.1.
Letter from Stephen F. Austin to the governor of Spanish Texas, Lt. Col. Luciano Garcia, on preserving order in the colony, 1823, p.2. Nacogdoches Archives 004-37.1.

Spanning tens of thousands of pages, the Nacogdoches Archives are a rich resource, but given that the documents are written by hand and primarily in Spanish with no comprehensive index, accessing the contents of the collection can require time, patience, and education. For the academic researcher, the records chronicle the intersection of colonialism, cultures, politics, commerce, and settlement in a rugged, rapidly changing frontier. For family researchers, certain types of records document residency, military service, life events, and lived experiences in colonial East Texas. Prior to using the records, a brief introduction to the various resources providing enhanced access–transcriptions, translations, indexes–can save time and improve search efforts.

Accessing the Nacogdoches Archives

Original Spanish documents: microfilm and online
The Nacogdoches Archives documents were microfilmed following their 1980s rearrangement. Original materials from the Nacogdoches Archives are not pulled for research purposes unless the film copy is illegible. An inventory of the microfilm, including a brief content note for each reel, can be found on the TSLAC website: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/nacogdoches.html#microfilm. Microfilm access options include:

  • TSLAC Austin location. The Nacogdoches Archives microfilm may be viewed at our TSLAC Austin location. The Reference Reading Room offers microfilm viewers with printing capabilities as well as USB ports for downloading images to personal flash drives. For useful information prior to visiting the library, please visit our website: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/visit.html
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL). You can request to borrow reels through your local library for viewing at that library. After you have identified the desired reels, please see our website for more information about ILL: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/landing/ill.html
  • Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com digitized the Nacogdoches Archives microfilm and provides access online. The database containing these records is Nacogdoches, Texas, Spanish and Mexican Government Records, 1729-1836. Texas residents may access this database for free through  Ancestry.com Texas. TSLAC also provides free on-site access to Ancestry.com as do many local libraries nationwide.

Transcribed documents
Robert Bruce Blake produced several series of publications including materials from the Nacogdoches Archives; however, his most important was the 89-volume series begun in 1928. In his transcription, which includes many English language subject headings, but few translations, the original Nacogdoches Archives are thought to be included in their entirety (confirmation would require a comparison of between 20 and 30 thousand pages). The series was also supplemented with Spanish language documents from other collections as well as Nacogdoches documents from the Bexar archives. These transcripts are only available for on-site use at the TSLAC Austin location and can be located in our catalog.

Robert Bruce (R.B.) Blake Collection
In addition to the Nacogdoches Archives transcripts, Blake also produced a 93-volume series of transcribed material referred to as the Robert Bruce (R. B.) Blake Collection, or the “Blake transcripts.” This series includes items from the Nacogdoches archives, the Nacogdoches County Clerks’ office, the General Land Office, the Bexar Archives, and additional archival sources. Although only select documents from the Nacogdoches Archives are included, this series is more widely available at various institutions and online. 

Additional resources

Additional publications held by TSLAC that include indexes or transcriptions of Nacogdoches Archives documents include (but are not limited to) census records, entrance certificates, minutes, book of foreigners, and items related to East Texas.

Census records: [read more about the census records]

Padron de los Indios – Mission San Jose, census page, January 24, 1798. Nacogdoches Archives, 299. TSLAC. 

Census records for Latin America and the Hispanic United States by Lyman Platt

The first census of Texas, 1829-1836 : to which are added, Texas citizenship lists, 1821-1845, and other early records of the Republic of Texas by Marion Day Mulins

Entrance certificates: [read more about the entrance certificates]

Entrance certificate for Thomas J. Rusk, Feb. 11, 1835. Nacogdoches Archives, 4-25/2. TSLAC.

Nacogdoches archives 1835 entrance certificates by Betty Fagan Burr

Nacogdoches archives : Index to 1835 entrance certificates and citizenship applications

Certificates of entrance relative to admission to settle in Texas under colonization laws : translated from the Spanish as contained in University of Texas transcript of Nacogdoches Archives, contained in volumes 76, 80, and 89

Other:

Selections from the Nacogdoches Archives relating to the history of East Texas by Robert Bruce Blake

Minutes of Ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches, Texas from July 17, 1828 to August 8, 1835 by Robert Bruce Blake

Book of foreigners settled at Nacogdoches : with date of application for citizenship and action of the authorities on such applications from 1827 to 1834 by Robert Bruce Blake

For questions about these materials please contact our reference staff at ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455.


Bibliography:

Carefoot, Jean. The Nacogdoches Archives. Undated printed manuscript. 8 pages. TSLAC Genealogy Vertical Files, Internal Document. Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

Long, Christopher. “Nacogdoches County”. Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/nacogdoches-county.

McDonald, Archie P. “Nacogdoches, TX”. Handbook of Texas Online Accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/nacogdoches-tx.

Texas State Gazette. (Austin, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 13, Ed. 1, Saturday, November 17, 1849, newspaper, November 17, 1849; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth80904/m1/4/?q=nacogdoches+records: accessed June 22, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. P . 4

Texas. Department of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics and History. Twenty-Ninth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History for the year 1903. Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones Co., State Printers, 1904.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with TSLAC Resources

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with TSLAC Resources

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s (TSLAC) Archives and Information Services Division holds a wealth of primary source archival documents, genealogy research resources, books, and more to spark your own research. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s kick things off with an overview of a few of our holdings that may be of interest.

State Archives Collections

The Hispanic heritage of Texas is integral to our history. Our flagship building, the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, located in the Capitol Complex in downtown Austin, is named for Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Sáenz, first vice president of the Republic of Texas. TSLAC holds many original documents relating to Zavala’s life and work, including writings, correspondence, documents from the Texas Revolution and early Republic period. Explore these on our Giants of Texas History: Lorenzo de Zavala website.

Lorenzo de Zavala translated into Spanish the declaration to the public announcing the colonists’ intention to fight for the restoration of the Constitution of 1824 and independent Mexican statehood for Texas. Read the translation in English here.

The significance of the Hispanic foundation of Texas is also reflected in part through early records held by the State Archives. The Nacogdoches Archives is a collection that includes 18th century Spanish colonial and Mexican national government records. TSLAC also has in our holdings the draft 1836 constitution for the republic with the bill of rights both in English and Spanish.

Correspondence, publications, broadsides and maps in Spanish illustrate how significant Hispanic culture is to what is now the state of Texas. Last year, we highlighted the Harry Lund collection in our Hispanic Heritage Month blog post. The Harry Lund collection contains more than 200 photos from the Morales Studio depicting the people of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in the first half of the 20th century. This collection is now fully digitized and browseable in the Texas Digital Archive (more below). Learn more about how to explore the Prints and Photographs Collections by visiting our research guide on the Archives and Reference website.

The Texas State Archives preserves and documents the heritage and culture of Texas by identifying, collecting, and making available for research the permanently valuable official records of Texas government, as well as other significant historical resources. Maintaining the official history of Texas government, the State Archives includes archival government records dating back to the 18th century, as well as newspapers, journals, books, manuscripts, photographs, historical maps, and other historical resources. By these records, all three branches of Texas government are accountable to the people. Taken together, the holdings of the Texas State Archives provide a historical foundation for present-day governmental actions and are an important resource for Texas studies.

Browse hundreds of archival collections, maps, prints and photographs, and more on our website. We make many thousands of digital resources available, as well—visit our Online Collections to learn about accessing records, databases, and Ancestry.com through TSLAC (free for Texas residents). There is also a wealth of curated online exhibits available to view on our website, with topics ranging from historic flags to women’s suffrage.

The Texas Digital Archive (TDA) manages, preserves, and facilitates access to the electronic records collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, including those transferred by state agencies or digitized by the State Archives. The TDA now makes more than 5.5 million records of state government, as well as business, family, and organizational papers, prints and photographs, artifacts, audio, and video available for free online at www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive, with more being added every day. All records in the TDA are unrestricted, and are thus available for public use, including for scholarly research, journalism, teaching using primary source documents, genealogy and family history, and creative arts purposes. Patrons may browse collections, perform keyword searches, and view and download records through the online portal.

An overview page listing all of our collections—archival and historical, digital, exhibits, genealogical, library, local, maps, newspapers, oral histories, and photographs—is also available on our website.

Genealogy Resources at TSLAC

Vital statistics indexes are an important part of the genealogical resources available at the library. While we do not have access to the certificates themselves, the library does own selected indexes to Texas births, deaths, marriages and divorces. The indexes are available for on-site use.

Texas county tax rolls on microfilm are available for on-site use from the early years of each county through the late 1970s.

Our index of county records on microfilm is available online, along with instructions for borrowing rolls through interlibrary loan.

Our City Directories include print and microfilm records.

Our newspaper collections include newspapers on microfilm, original print newspapers, and online newspaper subscriptions.

This is just a snapshot! Browse our other genealogy resources.

TSLAC Library Catalog

Did you know our catalog is searchable on our website at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog?

By searching the library catalog, many of TSLAC’s titles and holdings can be discovered from the comfort and convenience of home.In the library catalog, you can find publications covering topics such as: Texas history, genealogy, United States federal documents, and much more! In fact, the State Archives’ finding aids can also be found in the library catalog. Check out our previous blog post, Out of the Stacks and into the Catalog: The Basics, which explores the features, functions, and various search strategies that you can use for navigating the library catalog.

While most of the books in TSLAC’s collections are in English, some patrons may prefer the experience of using Spanish-language navigation while searching the library holdings. Aunque la mayoría de los libros en las colecciones de TSLAC están solamente en inglés, el WebCat en español le puede ayudar con sus necesidades generales de búsqueda.

Other TSLAC Resources

Talking Book Program Recommended Titles

The Texas Talking Book Program (TBP) recommends titles on its blog. The “Staff Picks” series can be browsed going back to 2012, and many of the titles focus on Texas, the Southwest, the border region, and several titles are specifically recommended as Hispanic Heritage Month reads.

Texas Center for the Book Programs

The Texas Center for the Book, based at TSLAC, chooses a Great Read each year to promote statewide. The 2018 Texas Great Read, Shame the Stars by Guadalupe García McCall, is set during the explosive years of Mexico’s revolution, and has been called “a Texas reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.” Information about this book, as well as a video interview with the author and educator resources, are available on the Texas Center for the Book’s website.

This summer, the Texas Center for the Book launched the 2021 Literary Landmarks Roundup to double the number of landmarks in Texas. Four new sites were announced in August, including the Dr. Gloria E. Anzaldúa Literary Landmark at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Library In Edinburg, Texas. Anzaldúa’s book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, published in 1987 became a foundational work in the areas of border studies, Chicana feminism, and LGBTQ rights. A ceremony unveiling the new Literary Landmark will be held this fall. Stay tuned to the Literary Landmarks website for more information.

This year, Texans celebrated 25 years of Children’s Day, Book Day / Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros,  a national initiative founded in 1996 by author and literacy advocate Pat Mora in celebration of children, culture, and literature. The Texas Center for the Book coined the term Lone Star Día for the Texas event and encourages statewide participation. On even numbered years, grants for the First Book Marketplace are made available through the Texas Center for the Book. Nationally, libraries, schools, churches and organizations are encouraged to discover “bookjoy” year-round—most events occur around the official national celebration, April 30th. TSLAC Information about the 2022 celebration will be posted in the new year. Meanwhile, a wealth of resources is available year-round on the Lone Star Día website, including a video from founder Pat Mora, information documents, handouts, downloadable artwork, and more. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by starting to plan for your community’s 2022 Día now!

Learn more about the statewide programs of the Texas Center for the Book.


Hispanic Heritage Month and Early 20th Century Photos from the Rio Grande Valley

Photo of two men sitting, one is painting a portrait of a native woman.
Brownsville, two men sitting, one painting, undated, 1964/263-49, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a look at a photograph collection from the Rio Grande Valley. The Harry Lund collection contains more than 200 photos from the Morales Studio depicting the people of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in the first half of the 20th century. The “RGV” developed along the borderlands of Mexico and the southernmost point of Texas, with the town of Brownsville serving as a hub of commerce and social activity. Though the individuals are mostly unidentified and photos undated, we are able to experience visually the lifestyle and culture of the region for a population of Hispanic Texans at the turn of the last century.

Photo of a man and five children standing in front of a two-story house. Also pictured is an automobile from the middle of the 20th century.
Brownsville, group in front of a house, undated, 1964/263-46, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of a one-story house with a small, fenced yard. Two girls stand in front of the fence and two men stand on the porch. The writing on the photo reads "Arnulfo Corcea Residence" and "Brownsville, Tex. 9/10."
Brownsville, Arnulfo Corcea residence, 1910, 1964/263-216, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of men with ox-drawn wagons filled with melons in a line down the street as far as is visible. About 12 count. The writing on the photo reads, "Waiting their turn to unload melons. Brownsville Texas, 6-16-19.
Brownsville, men waiting their turn to unload melons, 1919, 1964/263-160, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of posed family portrait with left to right a young girl seated, an older man with mustache seated, an adolescent girl standing, a woman seated, and an adolescent boy standing.
Brownsville, family portrait, undated, 1964/263-36, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of a social dance taking place in about 1929. Four couples are seen dancing while a group of onlookers, both sitting and standing, line one side of the open-air  hall.
Brownsville, ballroom scene, about 1929, 1964/263-127, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of an outdoor baptism ceremony taking place in a river or lake. About six individuals stand in waist-deep water while a larger group of people of all ages stand on the shore. Buildings and a water tower are visible in the background.
Brownsville, outdoor baptism ceremony, undated, 1964/263-185, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

A wedding party poses for a photo outside next to an early 20th-century model automobile and horse and buggy. Ten couples, including the bride and groom, are pictured.
Brownsville, unidentified wedding party, undated, 1964/263-10, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.
Photo of Chamber of Commerce Band, Brownsville, Texas. Three rows of men in white uniforms holding various instruments stand on the steps in front of the building.
Brownsville, Chamber of Commerce band, undated, 1964/263-128, Harry Lund collection. Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Learn more about how to explore the Prints and Photographs Collections by visiting our research guide on the Archives & Reference website.